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DWI Enforcement and Field Sobriety Testing

Updated: Sep 28, 2023 @ 9:59 am

Less than 1 minute Reading Time: Minutes

Let’s be honest: nobody sets out thinking, “I might be pulling over for a DWI tonight.” Yet, for many, it’s an unexpected reality. What follows is often a blur: a series of tests, challenging questions, and unsettling emotions.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States secures every citizen against unreasonable searches and seizures. As far as Texas DWI cases are concerned, this implies that for an officer to pull you over, there needs to be “reasonable suspicion” of some wrongdoing. A mere hunch isn’t enough.

The Tell-tale Signs of Drunk Driving

So, how do officers detect potential DWI drivers?

It’s not as straightforward as one might assume. They’re not mere gut feelings or instinctual reactions. Officers are trained to spot distinct indicators that might hint at impaired driving. For instance, a driver weaving between lanes or failing to maintain a consistent speed are red flags police look for.

The Three-phase Process

Vehicle in Motion

Often, this is where it all starts. The officer observes your driving behavior. Swerving, erratic braking, or almost hitting another vehicle are significant indicators.

Personal Contact

After the initial observation, the officer interacts with you. Here, they’re observing your speech, eyes, and any potential signs of intoxication. Every detail counts. Even a casual remark could increase the suspicions of the officer.

Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST)

If the officer suspects you of DWI or DUI, they’ll conduct the SFST. These tests, standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), are designed to evaluate impairment.

The word “standardized” might imply a uniform test, but people react differently. Factors like age, weight, medical conditions, or even footwear can affect the results of these tests. Consequently, the outcome of these tests aren’t always a clear indicator of intoxication. From a criminal defense perspective, they’re ripe for a challenge.

More on Field Sobriety Testing

There are three tests an officer might administer if they suspect a motorist of drunk driving. Let’s review them.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

The HGN test involves observing a suspect’s eyes as they follow a moving object. The officers will usually use a pen. Involuntary jerking of the eyes, especially at particular angles, can indicate impairment.

Walk and Turn

The officer may ask you to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line, turn on one foot, and then return the same way. If you’re intoxicated, this simple exercise could be tricky.

One-leg Stand

The officer will instruct you to stand on one foot while counting aloud. Losing your balance can be interpreted as a sign of intoxication.

If an officer believes there’s probable cause after the SFST, you could be arrested for DWI. Under the Texas Penal Code and the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, they have the right to detain you. Following an arrest, further tests, such as breath or blood tests, might be conducted at the police station.

Your Best Option: Experienced Legal Counsel

If you’re in such an ordeal, remember our law firm stands ready to defend you while challenging the charges.

As ACS/CHAL Lawyer-Scientists, we possess an intricate understanding of the science behind DWI testing. We specialize in fighting DWI charges and other cases where a conviction might be determined by factors related to chemical evidence.

Your rights matter.

The attorneys at our law firm provide 100% free & confidential consultations, flexible payment options, and a dedication to ensuring your rights are protected. With countless 5-star reviews on Google and a pristine record with the State Bar of Texas, you can be assured of our commitment to excellence on your case.

If you or someone you know needs help fighting DWI charges, reach out to us today. We have law office locations in Galveston and League City. Call us at 409-904-0075 or come by today.

Galveston DWI Lawyer Tad Nelson

DWI Enforcement and Field Sobriety Testing

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DWI Enforcement and Field Sobriety Testing
DWI Enforcement and Field Sobriety Testing
DWI Enforcement and Field Sobriety Testing
DWI Enforcement and Field Sobriety Testing
DWI Enforcement and Field Sobriety Testing
DWI Enforcement and Field Sobriety Testing